13 Sep 2017, by LiesbethRhijnsburger
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More than 100,000 artifacts from one of the earliest European settlements in North America are now housed at New York State Museum located near where the objects were discovered more than 40 years ago.
The new collection documents the Dutch and early English settlement of the Albany area in the 17th century. The New York State Museum plans to open an exhibition featuring artifacts from the Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections in 2018.
Among the thousands of artifacts recovered are everyday items such as ceramic plates, tobacco pipes, drinking glasses, firearm parts, and food remains. Trade items in the collection include glass beads, mouth harps, and other items. Together, these two collections tell the story of the first Native Americans who lived in the Upper Hudson Valley for thousands of years before Europeans arrived, interaction between Native people and the first Dutch Colonists, the development of Fort Orange as a trading center, the establishment of Rensselaerswijck, and everyday life in 17th century New Netherland.
“The Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections not only contain important historic artifacts but they are also unique educational resources,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “We’re proud to own this extraordinary archaeology collection that reflects New York and Albany’s early history and share them with the children and adults of New York State.”
With support of Dutch Culture USA, new cases and exhibition graphics will be developed and will highlight and interpret the recent collections in the context of the 17th-century New Netherlands so that the full story of Fort Orange will be told and visualized.
Fort Orange was established along the Hudson River near present-day Albany by the Dutch West India Company in 1624. The fort was the first permanent settlement in New Netherland and was well-situated to take advantage of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. Dutch officials were eager to populate the new Colony with settlers and bestowed large land grants, called “patroonships”, to individuals who would transport farmers and tradesmen to the colony. The Patroonship of Rensselaerswijck encompassed the entire area around Fort Orange and was by far the most successful of these colonies. One of the chief farms and trade outposts within Rensselaerswijck was established in 1643 by Arent Van Curler on the rich agricultural lands along the Hudson River about 5 miles north of the fort. This stretch of river bottom would later be called Schuyler Flatts after Phillip Pieterse Schuyler who acquired the property in 1672. The Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts sites are designated National Historic Landmarks.